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Jason Crane Posts

The land beneath our feet

Chris Clarke has a very interesting interview with Ward Churchill on his blog. Most of the interview is about Native American issues, and at one point, Churchill makes a very arresting comment about implementing a progressive agenda on land you stole from someone else:

“You can take all the progressive agenda items you want, including environmentalism and ecology, OK? The movement to combat sexism, the movement to combat racism, the movement against oppressive class structures, all of it. And if in the end, you come up with a scenario in which all of those goals are suddenly realized, do you know what you end up with? You end up with a society that is still predicated fundamentally in colonialism. It would still be a colonial society because it would have been implementing these relations, however progressive they may seem on their face, on somebody else’s land without their permission. You’ve still got an imperialist culture. You’ve got a culture that will reinvent all these forms you thought you just combated and destroyed. You gotta deal with the fundamental issue first and work out from there. You gotta lay a foundation for a different social order, a different social consciousness and all the rest of it. And the place to begin that, of course, is in relation to the land.”

Sometimes I agree with Churchill, and sometimes I don’t. I must admit, though, that I’d never really considered this particular point before. What do you think? You can click on Submit A Comment right below this message to add your thoughts.

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The great escape

This morning, my nearly-three-year-old son Bernie woke up at about 5 a.m., came into our bedroom, and spent nearly two hours crawling all over us on our bed. Finally, in desperation, Jen put on a Blue’s Clues video on the bedroom TV. No effect — Bernie continued to jump around, yell, sing, talk to himself, and kick the wall.

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I got the baby gate, put it up in the doorway to our room, and put him on the other side of it. As I turned to go back to bed, I shut the bedroom door … and discovered that Bernie had taken the knob off the door. Jen and I were now locked in the bedroom.

We live in a house built in 1902. The doors are original to the house, and many have missing or broken knobs, so very few of them actually shut. The door to the computer room, for instance, can only be opened with a butter knife. Thinking that maybe the bedroom door could be opened that way, Jen and I began calling through the door to Bernie, asking him to get a butter knife. He said “No!” and went into his own room. We heard his door shut.

We began to tear apart our bedroom — which usually looks like someone has already torn it apart. We were searching for some sort of implement to use to open the door. We tried a pen, a small screwdriver, a marker, a wooden clothespin, a plastic clothes hanger, part of a sewing machine … nothing worked. Then I remembered that there was a kitchen knife in the top drawer of one of our dressers. This dresser used to be in the computer room in our old apartment, which also had a door that could only be opened with a knife. I used to keep the knife in the dresser in case I ever got locked in the room. I tore open the dresser drawer, grabbed the knife, and discovered that it didn’t fit into the locking mechanism of the bedroom door.

Now we were starting to get desperate. Our bedroom is on the second floor, and it overlooks the porch roof. I considered climbing out the window, walking across the porch roof, and swinging down onto the porch. I went to the closet, got my fedora, leather jacket and whip, and cued John Williams to start the orchestra.

OK, I actually looked out the window, saw that it was raining, considered my lack of shoes, and decided against the Indiana Jones moment.

We thought about whom we could call. My sister lives close by, but she and my mom were on the way to Massachusetts. My dad was home — nearly 45 minutes away. We have friends close by, but even if they came, what could they do?

It was right about then that I remembered that the closet door in the bedroom had the same kind of knob as the bedroom door. I also remembered that it was loose. I reached over, yanked it out of the door, and used half of it to turn the lock in the bedroom door. We were free!

After a few hours of sober reflection, I feel I’ve learned an important parenting lesson from the ordeal. It is this:

Always keep a fire axe in your bedroom.

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Bruuuuuuce in Rochester

Jen and I saw Bruce Springsteen for the second time on this solo acoustic tour. Tonight’s show was the first show on this leg of the tour, following a couple weeks off. Here, to the best of my recollection, is the set list. Following the list if my little review:

  • Idiot’s Delight
  • Living Proof
  • Devils & Dust
  • My Father’s House
  • Long Time Comin’
  • Independence Day
  • Two Faces
  • Ain’t Got You
  • Maria’s Bed
  • Cautious Man
  • Reno
  • Nothing Man
  • Real World
  • Racing in the Street
  • The Rising
  • Further On (Up the Road)
  • Jesus Was an Only Son
  • This Hard Land
  • Two Hearts
  • Galveston Bay
  • Matamoros Banks

ENCORE

  • Growin’ Up
  • The Ties That Bind
  • The Promised Land
  • Dream Baby Dream

All in all, a fantastic show. His voice was in perfect form, the crowd was into it, and the show was a lot more upbeat than the July 18 Buffalo show, which had a great set list and a lame audience. Idiot’s Delight was a powerful opener, with somewhat distorted and delayed vocals and a great electric guitar part. Long Time Comin’ is quickly becoming one of my favorites. When he announced that he was going to play a song “for the first time on this tour,” the crowd cheered. He said, “I don’t know why people always cheer. I’ve played about 120 songs on this tour, which means you’re going to miss about 100 of them. But I’ve thought about it, and these are the best 20. There’s a system.” Then he played Independence Day. Further On Up The Road was very intense. The encore was great — Bruce changed some lyrics in Growin’ Up, I think. I know he also changed them in ain’t got you (from “king’s ransom for doin’ what comes naturally” to “king’s ransom for doin’ what I’d do for free”).

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Ogden police protect and serve … anti-union bosses

OGDEN, NY — Security guards bully workers. Workers call police to protect them from guards. Police arrive and hassle workers. Security company turns out to be owned by the brother of one of the cops. That cop is also moonlighting as a security guard. Welcome to Ogden!

The Ogden Police are routinely called to the picket line at Caldwell Manufacturing, where the workers have been on strike since August. Ted Boucher, owner of Caldwell Manufacturing, brought in scabs to staff the production lines, and he also hired guards from C.O.P. Security to direct the cars out of the parking lot as the workers marched across the entrance. That the workers are legally entitled to picket in that spot is of no consequence to the guards who enforce Caldwell’s anti-union policies.

Recently, the C.O.P. Security guards have been roughing up the strikers. Security guards have knocked down workers. Just days ago, one of the guards shoved a woman with both hands. In the face of this escalation, the union (IUE-CWA Local 331) has begun calling the police on their own behalf. But when the police arrive — even when they’ve been called by the union — they immediately bypass the workers and head straight for the guards to get the story. Turns out that one of the security guards is Sergeant Dale Barton of the Ogden Police Department. That’s right, he works for C.O.P. Security and for the police force the workers depend on to protect them from C.O.P. Security. Better still, Dale Barton’s brother is Rick Barton – the president of C.O.P. Security.

Why are the workers on strike? Because Ted Boucher, the owner of the company, decided not to bargain in good faith with the workers. He was censured by the NLRB, and he has appealed that ruling.

As Joan Collins-Lambert wrote on her blog Work Related: “The strike at Caldwell is about something more enduring than tomorrow’s paycheck. It’s about a union’s right to exist, and about a company’s obligation to bargain in good faith with its union workers. Among other things, Caldwell management wants to remove union security clauses in the collective bargaining agreement, and eliminate dues check-off. In other words, it wants the union to commit suicide.” That about sums it up.

So Boucher appealed, and the union workers reluctantly but unanimously decided to strike.

Last Thursday, Sept. 29, was a typical afternoon on the line. The most belligerent of the rent-a-cops, whom I’ll call Dom, shoved another worker today. The cops showed up and immediately pulled aside one of the strikers, keeping him in the back of a patrol car for about 30 minutes before letting him go. I talked to the cops, and told them that if anyone needed to be removed, it was Dom, not the worker. I pointed out that Dom consistently bullies the workers, while the police do nothing to protect the workers’ legal right to picket. The cop was nonresponsive.

Later in the afternoon, a woman pulled up beside one of the police cars to talk to the officer inside the car. Seeing a golden opportunity, I immediately began making fun of the officer over my megaphone. When the woman left, the officer — Lockwood by name — rode up to me and accused me of slandering his wife. I said it was in fact him I was yelling at, and I told him he should be ashamed of himself for protecting the “rights” of Ted Boucher over the rights of the workers. The workers surrounded me as Lockwood and I argued back and forth for a few minutes, until I got bored and walked away.

When it was time to go home, I did what everyone else before me had done and made a perfectly safe u-turn on the road to get back to the main highway. Within seconds, Lockwood was behind me with his lights flashing. One of my coworkers was in the car with me, and we were laughing uproariously as Lockwood approached the car to write me a ticket for “making an illegal u-turn on a curve.” He wrote up the ticket and held it in the window of my car. I took out my pad and pen and asked him for his name. “It’s right there on the ticket,” he said, but I took my time writing it down anyway. “I have an emergency call,” Lockwood protested, “take the ticket.

So a company breaks the law, is censured, and then appeals, forcing its employees to take their fight to the street. The police support the company, taking sides against their neighbors. There’s a serious conflict of interest at work in Ogden, and it’s directly harming the workers on the picket line.

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Rochester loses one of the good guys

Forrest Cummings

I’m very sad to report the passing of Forrest Cummings, who I knew through his work at Jazz90.1, where he hosted the great show Jazz Ain’t Nothin’ But Soul. Forrest was one of those people who make the world a better place, and it was truly an honor to know him and work with him.

Forrest had a show on WRUR for decades, and when his time there ended, I was on the phone with him immediately, asking him to come to Jazz90.1 and work his magic. We met for lunch, and he agreed to make the move. Most of our volunteers and staff members already knew who Forrest was, and he was welcomed with open arms to our Sunday night lineup.

Even after I left the station, I’d see Forrest at Red Wings games (he was on the board of Rochester Community Baseball) and at the Rochester International Jazz Festival and other musical events. It was always a pleasure to see him — everyone always seemed to know him and respect him wherever he was.

My thoughts are with the Cummings family. We’ve lost one of the good guys, but Rochester is a better place because he was here.

Here’s the obituary from The Democrat & Chronicle:

Forrest Cummings, 56, dies

He worked to give back to Rochester and to help children

by Ernst Lamothe Jr.
Staff writer

(September 24, 2005) —

Forrest Cummings Jr. could have left Rochester for bigger cities and bigger opportunities. Instead, he spent his life giving back to the only city that mattered in his book.

Mr. Cummings, 56, died Thursday of a massive heart attack.

He worked more than 20 years as regional director of the state Division of Human Rights. In addition, he served on the boards of the Boys and Girls Club, Urban League, Baden Street Settlement and the Rochester Red Wings.

Brenda D. Lee saw every step of Mr. Cummings’ path from a young boy at Edison Technical and Industrial High School to the man who was well respected in the community.

“He was a person who had incredible discipline on one hand but could be very humorous on the other,” said Lee, a childhood friend. “The person you would see in a social setting was completely different than the person you would see as regional director.”

While his time was often spread thin, one area always had a priority on his schedule.

“He was absolutely passionate about making a difference in the lives of children,” said Lee. “Forrest was an incredible role model for everyone, especially young African-American males.”

Gary Larder, Red Wings president and CEO, said Mr. Cummings was the first board member to financially contribute to offering season tickets for the underprivileged.

“He brought a mature attitude and certainly a team spirit,” said Larder.

When Mr. Cummings died, he was spending time with Maurice Stone, 43, a Penfield man with a developmental disability whom he visited every Thursday. Friends say it was an example of the life Mr. Cummings led.

“Even though he was in a position where he dealt with judges, lawyers and politicians, he was very comfortable with everyday folks,” said the Rev. Lawrence Hargrave, acting dean of black church studies at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School.

“He could walk around the streets of Rochester and people would know him, and he could walk into the highest offices of the state and people would know him.”

Mr. Cummings hosted Jazz Ain’t Nothing but Soul for 26 years on WRUR-FM (88.5) Sunday evenings before moving to WGMC-FM (90.1) for the past two years.

He is survived by his wife, Juliette Rhodes-Cummings. Funeral arrangements are pending.

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